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Senator Calls on U.S. to Fight Flotilla

Pro-Israel activists are calling to support a U.S. senator who has called on America to help Israel stop Gaza-bound boats.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 7/1/2011, 12:44 PM / Last Update: 7/1/2011, 2:11 PM

Flash 90

The United States should not only express opposition to attempts to violate Israel's naval blockade on Hamas, but should provide Israel with any help needed to enforce the blockade, according to U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill).

In a recent report following a fact-finding trip to Israel, Kirk called to “make available all necessary special operations and naval support to the Israeli Navy to effectively disable flotilla vessels before they can pose a threat to Israeli coastal security or put Israeli lives at risk.” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has ordered the navy to block the boats.

American pro-Hamas activists taking part in the latest “flotilla” to Gaza were upset by Kirk's proposal, and called on the senator to reverse his position. “Your earlier call for military action against us jeopardizes our safety,” they said in a letter to Kirk. The activists have dubbed their ship The Audacity of Hope after U.S. President Barack Obama's best-selling book, and are calling it the "US boat to Gaza."

Pro-Israel activists have called to counter the pressure on Kirk with a showing of support. Activists called Thursday to contact Kirk through the Senate website and express support for his position on Hamas and on the flotilla.

In addition for calling on the U.S. to assist in turning back the boats, Kirk suggested that America designate the Turkish group IHH, which organized the flotilla, a terrorist group. The IHH qualifies as a group “providing financial, technological, or material support to terrorists, terrorist organizations, or acts of terrorism,” said Kirk, quoting Executive Order 13224.

Turkey should be help accountable if it allows the IHH to launch flotillas headed for Gaza, he said.

Increasing U.S.-Israel Cooperation
Kirk called to increase U.S.-Israel cooperation in several other ways, including a joint fight against piracy in the Indian Ocean, join development of “offensive and defensive cyber capabilities” in the struggle against Iranian cyber-attacks, and cooperation regarding the Iron Dome missile defense system.

As the primary foreign sponsor of Iron Dome, the U.S. should look into the possibility of using the system to defend American soldiers and NATO troops, he said.

Strong U.S. support for projects like Iron Dome, David's Sling and Arrow-3 missile defense will help counter Iran's push for power in the region, he continued. Kirk also proposed assistance for Israeli operations in the Indian Ocean in the wake of Iran's submarine deployment to the Red Sea.

In remarks guaranteed to anger Palestinian Authority leaders, Kirk called for an end to U.S. support for the PA as long as the PA is ruled in part by Hamas, and also said American aid should end if the PA declares a state while continuing to reject negotiations.

Kirk also called to end United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) activities in the territories claimed by the PA for the establishment of a new Arab state. True nation-building requires that the PA begin to take responsibility for providing services such as education and healthcare that are currently provided by UNRWA, he stated.